The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, November 2-8

repertory cinema-anguish

Anguish (1987)
Directed by Bigas Luna
A hypnotized man-child (Michael Lerner looking like the older brother of Seinfeld’s Newman) does whatever his mommy wants (a creepy Zelda Rubenstein), and what she wants is to murder and collect the eyes of anyone who wrongs her son. Not long into the movie, Luna reveals that this story is actually a film screening in some small theater in the US. Little do the viewers know that a killer is watching this film with them.

Luna’s reflexive movie-within-a-movie is a deadly cocktail of irony and tense parallel action of what’s happening in the theater. It’s a mesmerizing mise en abyme of film watching and recalls, as often noted by critics, Hitchcock and Buñuel, but also Lamberto Bava and John Carpenter. Next to David Fincher and D.W. Griffith, Anguish has some of the finest, sustained crosscutting in film history. Anguish, like Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets (1968), takes on another level of meaning after the 2012 Aurora shooting. Tanner Tafelski (November 3, 6:45pm; November 12, 4:45pm at Anthology Film Archives’s “The Medium is the Massacre” [presented by Screen Slate])